The recent Supreme Court judgment prohibiting the deemed universities from offering distance education courses without valid approval came both as a matter of relief as well as worry for the students as well as the academicians in the country. The decision will prompt the authorities to bring reforms in the academic sector. At the same time, it also raises the question of justice as several students are losing due to the regulators’ negligence.
There had been allegations for a while that several institutions across the country are offering the courses to students, that they are otherwise not legally permitted to. As there was strict inspections and visits from the higher education regulatory authorities frequently to the institutions, these courses where largely offered as the distance programmes. Now, to make this happen several deemed universities started acquiring sanctions from Distance Education Council (DEC) without the prior approval of the concerned body. For instance, several deemed universities offered engineering courses through distance programmes without the prior approval of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). The ruling came in light of several deemed to be universities shifting to such courses without any regulatory sanctions or much infrastructure development. According to the verdict, any degree granted through such schemes after 2001 will be suspended and will be cancelled further if the student fails to clear the exams conducted by AICTE.
On the Verge of Collapse
For several decades, several academicians from in and outside the country have been accusing the education system in the country for its failure in imparting an overall holistic development of students. Rather, according to them, the Indian Education System largely tests the memory power of the students and creates unnecessary competition between young minds, who are otherwise supposed to learn the social values and importance of interpersonal relations. Here one must keep in mind that the blame that we take is over a system that was once known for its efficiency and intellectualism around the globe. Historically, India was an education hub with scholars and students from across the world visiting the country to gain knowledge. Also, were the ones who innovated the modern thought and science through the invention of the value of Pi, several geometrical explanations and so on. By looking at the present condition of the Indian Education system, one may see how it lost its glory that it once enjoyed and slowly is in the path of collapse.
Underlying Currents of Indian Education System
One of the reasons why we come across such judicial observations frequently is due to the fact that the government as well as the apex bodies in charge of maintaining the functioning of the educational institutions are failing to discharge their responsibilities. For instance, the government decision to grant deemed to be universities status to a dozen of institutions only to revoke them later in early 2009 created a lot of confusion among the students regarding the credibility of several institutions amongst the students. Similarly, the frequent changes in the exam patterns for the national level competitive exams like Civil Services and UGC-NET also put several students at a disadvantageous position as it made them to depend on the coaching institutions each time for materials updated with the changes.
Now the most important question that one must ask would be that why there is so much of uncertainty in our education system when a much of it can be avoided if the decisions are taken at a proper time with effective implication? It is not the mere failure of the rules that we have; for India, we do have regulations for each and every aspect of life. However, where we fail is the effective implementation of the same. In the recent judgement, court suspended the degrees granted by these institutions from way back the year 2001. Now, who will compensate the students in question for the losses that they might incur from the failure of the government authorities to ensure the enforcement of law? Who will be answerable if these students fail to secure their jobs and losses the livelihood that they earn now? Is it justifiable to crucify the student community for the mismanagement from the part of the government as well as the unlawful activities of the educational institutions? These are the questions that we must answer to ensure social justice, something that we often talk about but on which we act less.
Here, the argument is not against the judicial decision over these irregularities, but against the contrasts between government policies and their implication.
-Contributed by Jiss Palelil
Picture Credits: youthkiawaaz.com